Baby nutrition the testing stage
Child's health

Baby nutrition: tasting stage advice

When your baby is between 4-6 months, it is recommended that he start tasting things that are not breast milk or formula. How do you know he is ready to taste, what is allowed to be tasted and in what quantity. And allergies, what about them?

Breast milk is the best baby nutrition for a baby. It is recommended to breastfeed exclusively until the end of the sixth month of the baby’s life, without additions of food or drink.

A baby who is ready for tasting will start to be interested in the food on the adult’s plate, try to reach it with his hand, drool or make movements with his mouth it will increase baby nutrition.

Vegetables and fruits are recommended as first foods and you can also offer babies tasty beef, turkey and chicken, fish, legumes and eggs.


Whether your baby is fed breast milk or baby formula, it won’t last forever. At some point he or she will discover the wonderful culinary world, but even at the tasting stage there are rules that are important to follow.

For those who don’t know yet, breast milk is the best food for a baby nutrition. It is recommended to breastfeed exclusively until the end of the sixth month of the baby’s life, without additions of food or drink. Even after that, it is recommended to continue breastfeeding, in combination with complementary foods, until at least one year old – and as long as it is good for the mother and the baby.

A baby who is not breastfed or partially breastfed will receive a baby food compound  based on cow’s milk.

So when should you start the food tasting?

You can start tasting food from the age of four months (17 weeks) until six months (26 weeks) – not recommended before or after.

How do we know the baby is ready to start tasting?

Babies learn by imitation. One of the signs that a baby is ready to start tasting is the way he behaves around an adult who is eating. The baby will become interested in the food on the adult’s plate, try to reach it with his hand, spit or make movements with his mouth. It will increase baby nutrition. Also, pay attention to the baby’s behavior when you put a little solid and soft food in the front of the mouth. 

If the baby moves the food back with the tongue and swallows, it is a sign that it is ready.

If he pushes the food out, makes a face or makes sounds of disgust – it is advisable to wait a few more days and try again. And no less important: in order to swallow solid food comfortably, it is important to mature the torso and neck muscles. If the baby holds his head and upper body steady – a sign that he is ready.

If you are not sure, you can consult with a drop-of-milk nurse or a pediatrician

Baby nutrition: What is the advantage of the tasting stage?

Giving very small amounts of complementary food allows the baby’s immune system to get to know a variety of new substances or ingredients found in the food, and helps it deal with these foods more successfully. Gradual integration of complementary foods is necessary for nutritional purposes, contributes to development and enables the transition from liquid to solid food. ​

Baby nutrition: What can the little ones taste? Where to start?

The grilled skewers and steaks will have to wait a bit, and no one thinks that this is “baby food”. But it is recommended to start with rich and iron-enriched foods . You can try porridges and cereals that are rich in iron and meet the definition “baby food”. Vegetables and fruits are recommended as first foods and you can also offer babies tasty beef, turkey and chicken, fish, legumes and eggs. Try only one new food at a time to make it easier to find the cause of a food intolerance reaction, if one occurs. 

Baby nutrition: What quantity and texture of tasting is involved? 

The tastings are in small quantities only: a small teaspoon or two up to twice a day and in a ground texture. A drop should be given on the tip of the tongue. You can also use an adult finger (clean!). Of course, the tastings do not replace a meal of breast milk or baby food compounds. During the exposure period, the baby’s diet will continue to be based on breast milk or baby food compounds.

Baby nutrition: When does tasting become a real meal? 

From the age of 6 months, exclusive feeding with breast milk or baby food compounds does not meet all the needs of the baby. This is the time when the babies gradually develop their ability to chew and show a growing interest in the different foods. Around the age of six months (26 weeks) you can start one full meal consisting of complementary food only with an emphasis on foods rich in iron.

From the age of 7 months to the age of 9 months, you can give two meals of complementary food a day and it is desirable that at least one meal contains food rich or fortified with iron. Baby nutrition, as you can easily understand, is built in stages – layer after layer

When can babies be exposed to wheat protein (gluten), peanuts and tahini?  

In the past, we argued that exposure to gluten, which is found in porridge and various grains, should be postponed until at least six months of age, in order to reduce the risk of celiac disease . Today, however, evidence is accumulating that exposure to small amounts of food containing gluten – between the ages of four and seven months – actually reduces the risk of developing celiac disease.

Between the ages of 17 and 26 weeks, you can add to babies tasty foods with a high allergenic potential – such as eggs, fish, tahini and peanuts – but it is important to do this in the appropriate texture (crushed or ground) for the baby’s menu.

No fear of allergic reactions?

There is no advantage in postponing the addition of these foods to the diet of babies, in order to lower the incidence of allergic diseases. 

From an Israeli-English study  it became clear that the prevalence of allergy to peanuts in Israel at the age of 4-18 is about one-tenth of that in England. The researchers believe that early exposure of babies to peanut snacks in Israel develops resistance to this allergy, which is considered the deadliest of all food allergies. ​

When do you add dairy products? 

In the past, it was recommended to postpone exposure to dairy products in the diet for babies until the end of the ninth month and cow’s milk only from the age of one, due to the fear that early exposure would increase the risk of milk allergy. 

Today it is believed that a small amount of dairy products can be added to a baby’s diet, and some complex foods (pies, fritters, soups, sauces) even before the age of nine months. It turns out that early and limited exposure to dairy products does not increase the risk of developing a milk allergy. 

Still, a larger amount of dairy products (cheeses and yogurts) is still recommended only from the age of 9 months, and cow’s milk in large quantities only from the age of one year, and this to prevent anemia.

Dairy products are a poor source of iron and due to the high prevalence of anemia in Israel, it is important to first establish a menu rich in iron and to accustom babies to foods rich in iron such as meat, chicken and turkey.

Besides cow’s milk, is there anything else that should not be given before the age of one?

Before the age of one year, it is important not to expose the baby to honey , which may contain spores of the botulinum bacterium which is dangerous for the baby. It is also advisable not to expose the baby to industrialized or fast food, high in salt or sugar

When should fluids be added? 

Healthy babies, who are fed with breast milk or baby food compounds only, do not need the addition of water or other liquids. The transition to solid food requires liquid supplementation. Therefore, only from the age of six months, when the little ones start eating a whole meal, water should be added to the daily menu. 

Drinks and liquids other than water – such as fruit juices, drinks sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners , various types of tea, herbal mixtures and drinks containing caffeine (such as cola, coffee, cocoa, tea) – are not recommended at all!

What supplements are recommended for babies?

Vitamin D: from birth to one year of age it is recommended to give 400 international units.

Iron: 4-6 months old – 7.5 milligrams; Age 18-7 months – 15 milligrams.

It is important to do a blood count at the age of 9-12 months to detect anemia, and if necessary – to change the dose of iron.

About the author

Dr. Subir Pal

Dr. Subir Pal is a famous paediatrician in Kolkata. He is a specialist in Child Asthma Treatment, Child Allergy Treatment

Currently working as a Neonatologist and Child Specialist, specially interested in atopic disease like childhood asthma, skin allergy,CMPA(COW’S MILK PROTEIN ALLERGY),food allergy associated with gastric upset.

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